Sweet Things

FOR THE HUNGER GAMES COMPETITION - A family from the Capitol settle down to watch their favourite TV show: The Hunger Games.


1. Sweet Things

               “Aelia! It’s starting! C’mon!” my sister, Clodia, is already perched at the edge of the sofa, the rubies studding her tightly woven braid glowing like embers. I poke her shoulder hard and she screeches.


                 “I told you I was doing my hair like that!” I shout at her and tug on my own braid. I got Mama to dye it all the colours of the fire, “We agreed that I’d be Katniss and you’d be Peeta!”

She sticks out her bottom lip in a sulk, “But Peeta’s soooo boring and Katniss is so pretty!”

                  “Yeah, well, we agreed!”

Mama teeters in her favourite shoes with the six-inch mini-trident as a heel and we both stop arguing to stare at her beautiful outfit. She’s wrapped up tightly in a golden net and her hair is dyed a familiar shade of eye-catching sea-green. My eyes light up as I take in the beautiful muted colours of the ocean tattooed across her skin in waves. Finnick Odair has been her favourite tribute since he won the 65th Hunger Games. It is only right that she should honour him by dressing in a District 4 inspired outfit. After all, this may well be the last time we see his beautiful face.


I met him once, about three years ago. I came home early from school just as he was getting into a car right outside my house. He was flagged by Peacekeepers. They must have been making sure he wasn't ambushed by fans. He was even more handsome up close. When I called out to him, he held my hand and gently kissed it. Even know I can still feel the light touch of his lips on my hand like the touch of a butterfly. When I went inside, I told Mama what had just happened and she giggled like a child, all the while stroking a spot on her neck that was quickly forming into a purple bruise.


Suddenly, Mama collapses dramatically onto the sofa beside Clodia disturbing my line of thought. That was then, now Finnick is back in the arena and we all have a new excuse to fawn over him. Mama sighs as the camera goes in for a close up of his face. She murmurs to herself and I think she says “Oh, my lovely Finnick, remember my lips"

I sit down beside her just as the cannon goes off and the tributes dive off their pedestals. Katniss’s braid whips out behind her and I find myself knocking mine behind my back too.  I feel my stomach tense up. You really feel the games with the tributes, I think. 

There’s so much blood. The red flows like a silk ribbon through the air. Maybe I’ll put a ribbon that exact colour in my hair tomorrow. The girls at school will be jealous. I have to try and remain on top of the trends, especially with the ensuing games. They always inspire me to do something new. Like my hair. Everyone does the simple boring braid but I  thought of adding things to it. Maybe I'll pull a Johanna and chop it all off into a cute bob.

I look at myself in all the mirrors that surround the screen. On the screen some ugly, old, tribute is stabbed, but in the mirrors I see all the colours in my hair spark and move like they were really flames. I’m the real girl on fire. I love Katniss dearly, like my best friend, but her hair isn’t nearly as pretty as mine. In fact when she was first picked her hair was awful. All scraggly and greasy. But then she volunteered! For her sister no less! She probably didn’t want Prim to get the beautiful make-over when she could get it. She gets jealous of her sister too! Although Prim doesn’t have glowing diamonds in her hair.

I peek a sideways glance at Clodia. I’m going to have to steal those diamonds later so she can’t wear them again. 

Katniss grabs her bow and I sigh with relief. She’s so good with that bow. After last year everyone started going to archery classes. We all turned up in gear that exactly matched the work out gear the tributes wore last year! We all looked just like tributes! I remember running around with my friends pretending to shoot arrows at them and then two of the girls re-enacted Katniss and Peeta’s mesmerizing kiss in the cave. Their kiss was not mesmerizing. There was no love in their eyes. There was real love in Katniss’s eyes when she looked at Peeta and that’s hard to fake.

Speaking of Katniss and Peeta, I cannot believe they sent Katniss into the arena pregnant! That poor little baby! And Peeta… he looked so distraught. That poor baby will never have the chance at life. Couldn’t President Snow post-pone the games until the baby was delivered? Then Katniss could go in and everything would be alright. We could even have adopted it! Marcus for a boy and Goldy for a girl. That would be perfect.

The camera closes up on Finnick’s face again as he charges through the forest with that old woman from District 4 strapped to his back. He is so brave. I feel a flutter in my stomach as the camera zooms in so close you can see beads of sweat forming on his forehead. His lips look so soft. I wonder what it would be like to kiss them. To be held by him, the charmer from Distict 4. I could be Mrs Odair… If he wasn’t already in love with someone. Who was that girl he said that poem for? I watch my mother through the mirrors. Her eyes light up every time he appears on the screen. It couldn’t be her. She’s far too old. 


I can't believe Father is missing this. He said he was only going to briefly stop at the betting offices. I told him to bet on Katniss again but he said it was much more likely that some guy called Brutus would win. Apparently, he was really rather brutal in his games.


The games are starting to drag on. They spend far too much camera time on the tributes from District 2. I don’t care about them; I want to see more of the lovers. 


The next day Mama promises me that Clodia and I can stay up late to watch the re-runs with her.


I watch as that old woman from District 4, the one slowing Finnick down, walks slowly into the fog. Poisonous fog. That was such a good idea. Finnick looks like he’s about to cry, a sigh hitches in my mother’s throat and her hand jumps to my arm squeezing it. The edges of her gold starfish rings dig into my skin and I yelp. I scowl at her but she’s not paying attention, she’s too focused on the screen.

The camera follows the old woman into the fog. It’s hard to see but then they switch on the fog-lights and the beam cuts through the murky air like a blade wielded by a tribute from District 2. She stumbles to the ground and her mouth opens wide. I see two rows of gummy flesh. She makes no sound. Her skin blisters and bubbles. Even her eyeballs become encased in the oozing sores. Clodia shrieks and giggles from the sofa while hiding her face in her hands.


                “Ew, that’s so gross! Why would they show that!”


I laugh too. It’s so delightfully gruesome. I reach over to the coffee table and grab a handful of red bonbons Mama has laid out and try to get as many as I can in my mouth. If you suck on a lot of them they turn your spit blood red and it looks like you’re a tribute that just had their throat cut. I gurgle and pretend someone has slashed out my throat. Clodia sees me and laughs. On screen the old woman curls into a fist-shape on the forest floor. The camera spans out just as we watch her die.

Beside me Mama adjusts her position and crosses her legs; “Well, that was boring. Aelia, pass me a sweet before you eat them all”


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